In France, the role of executioner was an hereditary post and from 1688 – 1847 it was held by the Sanson family. At the time of the Revolution the position was held by Charles-Henri Sanson, who took his trade very seriously. But once his public role had been reduced by the guillotine to the mere pulling of a pin the better to show his skill by the sheer numbers that could be dispatched in the shortest amount of time. At the peak of the Terror Sanson guillotined 300 men and women in three days.
Oh, thou charming guillotine,
You shorten kings and queens;
By your influence divine,
We have reconquered our rights.
Come to aid of the Country
And let your superb instrument
Become forever permanent
To destroy the impious sect.
Sharpen your razor for Pitt and his agents
Fill your divine sack with heads of tyrants.